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Compare how the conventions of the sonnet

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Compare how the conventions of the sonnet genre combine with figurative language to create meaning in at least two texts. Originating in Italy, the sonnet was established by Petrarch in the 14th century as a major form of love poetry, and came to be adopted in England in the 16th century (Oxford Literary terms). Overtime there have been different types of sonnets written, for example the Italian (Petrarchan) sonnet, the English (Shakespearean) sonnet and the Spenserian sonnet. Each of these sonnets have there own conventions and use different types of poetic language to help create meaning for the reader. For the purpose of this essay we will look at how the conventions of sonnets combine specifically with figurative language to create meaning. We will begin by looking briefly at the three types of sonnet conventions before moving on to look at William Shakespeare's 'Sonnet 18' and 'Sonnet 73' to show how meaning is created through the combination of conventions and figurative language. As earlier mentioned, there are different types of sonnet, the major types being Italian, Shakespearean and Spenserian, each having their own sonnet form. All forms generally have some common features, such as comprising of fourteen lines and being written in iambic pentameter. The Italian sonnet has an eight-line octave, which usually raises an issue/argument followed by a six-line sestet where the issue/argument is resolved. The octave has a rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA, and the sestet can have either two or three rhyming sounds arranged in a variety of ways, for example CDCDCD, CDDCDC, CDECDE thus making the sestet very flexible. ...read more.


Having a turn here is not the usual place for a Volta in English sonnets, however it helps to enhance the speaker's feelings of not being able to compare his beloved, as she is perfect: 'But thy eternal summer shall not fade' (9) the turn is placed here so the next two lines can act as an 'answer' in comparison with line 5/6 where it seemed he was agreeing that she would also eventually die. After the turn the speaker describes his beloved as summer rather than comparing her to summer with the only difference being she is 'eternal' The use of this metaphor combined with the meaning created through the conventions in the third quatrain intensifies the meaning of her beauty being eternal and living for ever. The idea of his beloved staying alive through poetry is also seen in line 12: 'When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st' (12). The 'eternal lines to time' is not only used as a synecdoche where 'lines' is referring to the whole poem but also refers to the aging lines of beauty she will get as she gets older. These eternal lines of both poetry and her beauty will only get more beautiful with age. The final couplet concludes by enhancing the speaker's feelings that his beloved will live forever through his words in the poem. To do this Shakespeare reverts to typical English sonnet conventions with a concluding final couplet, So long as men can breathe or eyes can see So long lives ...read more.


The speaker is saying that even though he is older now he is still loved by the person important to him and the love is made stronger by his age. The organization of 'sonnet 73' develops through images of aging, to dying, to death and then ultimately to love. We have looked at two English sonnets Shakespeare's 'Sonnet 73' and 'Sonnet 18'. 'Sonnet 73' used typical conventions of the English form through development of its argument and it rhyme scheme giving readers a basic outline of the sonnets meaning. 'Sonnet 18' however, showed similar conventions but developed its argument much like the Italian sonnet. This shows how the English form and Italian argument structure compliment each other. The conventions of both these sonnets did create meaning but this was further enhanced with the use of figurative language. In 'sonnet 73' the metaphors were used to show the speaker growing old and then extended throughout the sonnet, which helped to emphasize the sonnets central meaning. Whereas in 'Sonnet 18' personification was used to create an image in the readers head of an amazingly beautiful woman who is incomparable to even the nicest season, summer. I conclude that on there own both conventions and figurative language create meaning but when combined the meaning is enhanced. This is due to figurative language being able to create images for the reader and add mood and tension to a sonnet. ...read more.

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